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Cultivar Names

Flowers have a scientific name as well as a cultivar name. Both are useful when flipping through your fall catalog.

ballerina geraniums

Photo: Niall McAuley

These graceful flowers go by 'Ballerina', also known as Geranium cinereum.

The fall catalogs are arriving in our mailboxes, full of colored photographs of beautiful flowers.

Most gardeners enjoy reading the catalogs. Usually a plant is listed with the Genus name, followed by the species name and then the cultivar’s name, which is always in single quotation marks.

Species v. Cultivar

While the genus and species names are in botanical Latin, the cultivar’s name is in English and may be descriptive or quite fanciful. Many are name after people.

A popular hardy geranium is ‘Rozanne’ for example, and another is ‘Sweet Heidi’.

One geranium, however, is named ‘Ballerina’ because the flowers seem to dance.

There is yarrow named ‘Paprika’ which describes the red colored flower heads with tiny yellow centers.

There is a hyssop named ‘Honey Bee Blue’ which bees of course love, and a columbine, so delectable, that it is named ‘Lime Sorbet’, and an Astilbe called ‘Peaches and Cream’.

There is a delicious coreopsis ‘Crème Brulee’, and for the music lover there is a climatis ‘Claire de Lune’, and even a Europhorbia named ‘Tasmanian Tiger’.

Heucheras have cultivars with names diverse as ‘Chatterbox’, ‘June Bride’, ‘Pretty Patty’, ‘Firefly’ and even ‘Plum Pudding’.

There’s even a day lily named ‘Doddlebug’.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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